Train of tales Children

Hard at work

The story so far: Neel and Mohit would like to avoid the heavy work but are dragged back by Mohit’s father JJ to do their bit.

Mohit’s Dad ‘JJ’ spoke rapidly as he walked ahead of the two boys. “By popular vote, it has been decided that, instead of working on several houses side by side, we will all work on one or two big houses first. Once these few are done, anyone who doesn’t have a roof over their heads can stay there until the other houses are ready. That way, if we have unexpected rain or something, everyone will be safe.”

Neither of the boys said anything. “Your job,” said JJ, pointing to one of the biggest houses in the village, “is to pick up all the loose bricks around the broken fireplace and stack them neatly into the fireplace. Then we will cement over it and have just one smooth wall there. You think you can do that?”

The boys nodded. There were people hard at work all around them, so the boys bent and started picking up fallen bricks.

“A fireplace?” said Neel. “Is it ever cold enough to light a fire here?”

Mohit stopped what he was doing. “Now that you bring it up, it most definitely is not! Arramandal is not a hill station! Maybe the owners wanted it to look like the houses in England or something.”

“So, we have to work on the fireplace only because someone thought it fashionable to have a fireplace in their house!”

“Well, we have to do it,” said Mohit.

Job well done

They set to work, sure that it would take just half an hour or so. But, to their surprise, it was almost dark by the time they finished.

Mohit sighed. “Whew! That was a lot of work!”

Neel looked around to make sure no one was listening and said, “Sure made up for all the work we’ve avoided so far, huh?”

“Glad you acknowledge that you were avoiding work,” said a voice from behind the wall and both of them looked around guiltily to see Susan peeping at them.

Neel and Mohit made faces at her and ran off to wash and have dinner. Then they went to their tents and fell into an exhausted sleep. They met again in the morning at breakfast. They had just finished eating when JJ came up to them with a stern face. “I thought I’d told you to fill up that fireplace…” he began.

“We did!” said Mohit. “We did a great job!” Neel nodded vigorously.

“Well it certainly doesn’t look that way now,” said JJ curtly as he walked away. “Go sort it out. Get it done!”

The boys ran to the big house. The fireplace had been emptied of bricks. Once again, the bricks were lying all around.

They stared disbelievingly — and then turned and saw Susan watching them.

“You did this!” accused Neel. “You emptied the fireplace and tossed all the bricks around!”

To be continued

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Printable version | May 12, 2021 11:04:32 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/hard-at-work/article34177913.ece

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